Everyday kitchen beauty—a bubbling hot eggplant gratin fresh from the oven. A wintery trip to Provençe yielded this little kitchen jewel, along with a little wanderlust.
Provençe—in a word magical. The food—breathtakingly simple, with a focus on abundant fresh produce, punctuated with the heady fragrances of herbs, spices and flowers. A holiday visit to the South of France produced a quest to re-create a Provençal-style eggplant gratin, a little bijoux, here is my result.
Back home my quest to re-create the simply beautiful eggplant gratin I sampled in Provence began in full earnest. I knew the recipe contained but few ingredients and experimenting with so many different recipes I ended up feeling a little like Goldilocks, when I finally could say “and this eggplant gratin is just right.”
I discovered three keys to re-creating the eggplant gratin I enjoyed in Provençe. The first is a technique of baking the eggplant slices in the oven, rather than frying, resulting in a much lighter gratin. I discovered this technique in a recipe from the Oustau de Baumaniere in Les Baux-de-Provençe, a beautiful hotel and spa, which also offers cooking classes. These beautiful images conjure up a bit of wanderlust to visit Provençe again. Wishlist!
The other two keys are quite simple. Use homemade tomato sauce, here my old trusted Basics Tomato Sauce comes in handy. Lastly, based on another recipe’s technique, I left the eggplant unpeeled and allowed the gratin to brown to a dark, crusty brown, which created a subtle, smoky flavor. I keep a very light hand on the extras I added, with just a sprinkle of Herbes de Provençe between layers and a touch of Parmesan cheese gracing the top.
Individual oval porcelain gratin dishes are my choice for baking and serving (each about 10×5 inches and 12 ounces each) but the gratin can be baked in a larger five-cup shallow baking dish. I enjoy serving eggplant gratin as a main course, requiring only the addition of a fresh, green salad, some cheeses and perhaps a lovely bottle of red wine.
A little taste from Provence, sharing another jewel from the Bijouxs kitchen.
P.S. I updated the Bijouxs Pantry and Basics Boards with items from this post!